Libby Lane, first female bishop of the Church of England

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Mercredi 17 décembre, l’Eglise d’Angleterre a nommé la première femme évêque de l’histoire, Libby Lane, qui est ainsi devenue le nouvel évêque de Stockport, une ville de l’ouest de l’Angleterre située en banlieue de Manchester. Cette annonce marque un tournant dans l’histoire de l’Eglise anglicane

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Who is Libby Lane?

Libby Lane was born in 1966. She has been a priest since 1994. She has long been one of the most influential women in the Church. She’s married to a priest and has two children. She officiated in Blackburn. Furthermore, she was an observer of the Assembly of bishops. She was also named the doyenne of the Women’s ministry of the diocese of Chester.

On Wednesday December 17th, 2014, Libby Lane was appointed bishop of Stockport. She is the first female bishop in the history of the Church of England. In several interviews, she shows how happy and proud she is.

“This is unexpected and very exciting. […] I’m honoured and thankful to be called to serve as the next Bishop of Stockport and not a little daunted to be entrusted with such a ministry.”

A big step for the Church of England

The fact that a woman has been named bishop represents a big step in the history of the Church of England. Indeed, it shows an evolution in gender equality within the Church. Legislation was already adopted in November 2013 about female bishops by the general synod. It was made in order to put an end to male leadership in the Church in England.

After Libby Lane was named bishop, even Prime Minister David Cameron publicly approved the nomination and tweeted about it:

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This recent nomination could influence other Anglican churches to improve gender equality. Indeed, even if in theory legislation has been passed in order to allow women to become priests or bishops, gender equality is not yet a reality in most Churches. The announcement from Downing Street came just one month after changes to canon law making it possible for women to assume the role of suffragan and diocesan bishops.

This nomination could be seen as great progress. Indeed it shows that even institutions, that seem fixed in marble, can change and reflect our modern society. But, is it really that big a change? For a woman to become bishop was just a matter of time, 20 years after the first ordination of women priests. Her appointment puts an end to 22 years of resistance to the promotion of female priests.

Furthermore, even if this change represents progress, it also sheds light on the least progressive parts of the UK’s institutions. Indeed, Libby Lane is to be in the House of Lords, where 26 bishops are still allowed to have a seat. 

Walid IAAICH & Morgane RABENANDRASANA

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